You’re sitting, enjoying a glass of wine on a late summer afternoon when you hear it. A noise that strikes fear and panic into many can often be followed by an unwelcome sting that leaves many cursing the existence of the insect. But how do you know if what attacked you was a bee or a wasp? What are the main differences? And could it be possible that there are any real benefits to their existence to make up for the inconvenience of their persistent presence? In this post, we will pit them against each other, bee vs wasp, and by the end, you will know everything you need to know about our flying and at times, furry friends.
What They Look Like
Both bees and wasps belong to the Hymenoptera order of insects, which include ants. Although both have yellow and black as predominant features, the best way to distinguish a bee from a wasp is by their appearance. There are clear differences if you know what to look for.
The humble bee that most of us will encounter is either a honey or a bumblebee. The bumblebee, which can be twice the size of the honeybee, has hair all over its body, whereas the honey bee has less, mainly situated on its upper abdomen and legs.
The wasp, on the other hand, is sleeker in appearance with their bodies possessing a shine to them. They are identified by having a more pointed end and a narrower waist, as well as being more agile, all pointing to one of their main differences: what they eat.
The feeding habits of bees and wasps are really what tell them apart, as well as highlight the surprisingly great benefits they bring to our planet.
The design of a wasp gives it away as a predator. These flying critters are at heart scavengers who will and do eat everything they can find, meaning everything at your picnic is a viable option for them. They eat other insects, their larvae, and even have been known to get drunk.
Towards late summer when most of their work is done, worker wasps are essentially unemployed. With not much else to live for, they focus on one thing: eating! This makes their persistence a little more understandable!
Although this can mean a major inconvenience for you, their eating habits have been used as pest control on numerous occasions, so there is some good to be found in them!
Bees, on the other hand, are only interested in pollen and nectar. This leads to the cross-pollination of various plants and flowers, allowing them to thrive.
The wonderful union between bees and plant life is well documented as being vital to the existence not only of the natural world, but mankind as a whole. With this in mind, be sure to say thanks for all their hard work the next time one crosses your path!
Home Is Where the Heart Is
Another means to identify wasps vs bees is where they live and their habits. Once these are clear, it should prove easy to distinguish one from the other.
Bees and Their Hives
Bees are generally social creatures that have colonies ranging from the hundreds to the tens of thousands. The queen is whom they all serve, working hard to keep her and her brood fed as she continues to mate and lay eggs.
All worker bees are female. The generally larger drones are males, whose sole purpose is to mate with the queen, meaning that if they aren’t doing that, they are doing what we dislike: hanging around with not much to do. But we should have at least a little sympathy for them; they die they once they have mated.
Famously, the honeybee’s hive is made of wax and filled with delicious honey used to feed their young.
Bees secrete wax from their abdomen to make their nests, which can be found in abandoned rodent dens, trees, and between walls among other places. Bumblebees tend to be less selective. However, honeybees carefully choose their humble abode, preferring places that provide protection.
Wasps and Their Nests
Wasps are able to make their nests using their mouths. They mix wood, sawdust, or even mud with saliva into somewhat of a papery substance with nests found anywhere from holes in the ground to the attic of your home.
Also social though at times solitary, their quantity tends to be less than bees, ranging from the hundreds to the thousands.
The yellow jacket is perhaps the most famous of all wasps. It is important for you to know that they are very territorial and one of the most aggressive in comparison to the paper or mud dauber wasp.
To tell if you have yellow jackets in your home, it’s good to remember that yellow jacket nests tend to be hidden in some sort of cavity. Paper wasps and mud daubers generally have visible nests that are easy to identify.
Bees vs Wasps: The Sting
After carefully analyzing bees vs wasps, we have come to the part that most interests people. What are the differences between a bee vs wasp sting?
There is one clear way to tell.
Bees have a venom sac that is on the stinger and detaches from them once they sting you. Wasps, however, do not lose their stinger if they sting you, allowing them to do it multiple times. This goes back to their more aggressive nature being predators.
So if you have something left on your skin after being stung, it was likely a bee.
The best course of action is to get something to remove it with, such as tweezers. Do not squeeze the area however, as this will release more venom from the sac.
The last word in the bee vs wasp debate should go to hornets. Hornets are in fact members of the wasp family. Although they are less aggressive towards humans, their venom is more poisonous than their cousins.
So if you see something flying that is yellow and black during late summer or early autumn, be aware that it is likely a hornet. Both bees and wasps either die or hibernate as the colder weather approaches.
The Tail End of the Issue
So what are the main differences between bees vs wasps?
Knowing what we know now, it’s clear to see that if you come across a bee, it’s more than likely on its way to or from its hive. If it hovers and seems to not go away, be flattered; it probably is mistaking you for a flower!
Wasps, on the other hand, have a more aggressive nature and probably want some food off your plate or the drink in your cup. If one is close, don’t try to swat it away. Keep still and it will likely go in time.
If you are having problems with wasps and live in Eastern Pennsylvania or New Jersey, Pointe Pest Control would be more than happy to assist you. Get in touch with us today.